"Two Homes in One"May 2010, Log Home Living
Having built log homes for others, Mark Stamper longed to build his own. But not until he found the right location, with rock outcroppings, mixed forest, water and aspen trees. He and his wife, Julie, looked at several parcels before discovering the perfect 105 acres in Westcliffe, Colorado. Mark’s parents, Wally and Bev, were interested in retiring to the mountains, and they fell in love with the property as well. "After talking it over, we decided having two separate houses just didn’t make sense," Julie recalls. "Why not build one structure with two distinct and private living spaces? That way, we would only have to excavate and build one foundation, and we could share a well."
Mark had some definite design ideas for the home and contacted M.T.N Design, the design arm of PrecisionCraft Log Homes & Timber Frame, for whom Mark had built three homes. He and Julie combined the best features of several standard plans and added some ideas of their own.
Besides being familiar with the company’s building system, Mark liked its 10-inch milled spruce wall logs and 18-inch Douglas fir roof members, both of which they had finished by hand for a natural, rustic look. He chose structural insulated panels and 30-year composite shingles to insulate the home, which is nestled among rocks and trees for shelter from the mountain winds.
Construction was truly a family affair. Mark and Wally shared a small trailer while they built Wally and Bev’s portion. Unfortunately, Mark was knocked off the roof while putting up a ridge beam. His injuries resulted in two major surgeries and confinement to a wheelchair for several months. Luckily, he recovered without serious complications, and work resumed. Wally handled a lot of the construction; Julie set the tile, painted and decorated; and Bev stained doors and trim. Mark and a small crew did all of the work that required true craftsmanship.
The L-shaped home features a common front entrance and foyer. To the right and up the stairs is Bev and Wally’s 1,550-square-foot ranch-style home, situated over a three-stall garage. The senior Stampers enjoy a great room, kitchen, master bedroom suite, guest bedroom, full bath and two decks.
To the left of the foyer is Mark and Julie’s 4,000-square-foot domain. The great room, kitchen, master bedroom suite with gas-burning fireplace and a powder room occupy the main level, all but the kitchen enjoying vaulted ceilings. The loft above the kitchen, accessible by a spiral staircase, features a home office and guest bedroom suite that includes a full bath and sitting area. The spiral staircase also descends to the walkout lower level, which houses a gym, studio, bunk room and bath.
"This arrangement is absolutely ideal for all of us," Julie says. "Bev and Wally enjoy their privacy. They also are very active and travel four to five months out of the year. They feel comfortable leaving, knowing that we are right next door and able to take care of their home in their absence. Similarly, they water my plants and care for our dogs when Mark and I are away."
For their décor, Bev and Wally chose a comfortable and easy-to-care-for style. Julie and Mark’s log home reflects their personalities through a mix of surfaces and color. A variety of stone finishes and iron-work accentuates the beauty of the logs. Since the furnishings in their previous home in Arvada, Colorado, would have been lost in the vastness of the great room, Mark and Julie purchased larger upholstered and leather furnishings to compliment their antiques.
For her kitchen, Julie took a Tuscany-comes-to-Colorado approach and designed the space with an Old World rustic feel. She especially likes the stone arch over the cooktop and the mix of painted and stained cabinets that allowed her to get the specific color she wanted. She made the leaded glass panels on the doors, framed an old World War II-era menu from her grandfather’s restaurant and included her grandmother’s dishes to personalize the space.
Now that Julie is retired from teaching and Mark stays busy building homes, she knew she would have to find something to keep her from getting bored. Her studio allows her to indulge her artistic passions. She frequently uses it to teach classes in fiber art and quilting. A full bath and a bunkroom, which sleeps six, allow her students and friends to sleep over.
Snowshoeing, hiking and fishing keep the Stampers fit. When they can’t be outdoors, their lower-level home gym area has cardio and weight equipment, as well as an infrared sauna. After a workout, there is space to relax and watch TV. The copper ceiling tiles, Native American décor, fireplace and a 10-foot tree with ambient lighting create a cozy space.
Landscaping the property was a challenge since the home is on a slope and at 8,760 feet elevation. Mark moved tons of rock, placed accent boulders, and built steps and retaining walls to make everything accessible and to aid in fire mitigation.
Both Bev and Julie are avid gardeners, and they received plenty of advice from the local High Altitude Gardening Club. A drip system for the perennial beds makes the daisies, day lilies, daffodils and Apache plume easy to care for. A xeriscaped Zen rock garden is a place to sit and meditate. A solar greenhouse protects their vegetables from wildlife. A fire pit, hot tub, shaded hammock and a vintage ski-lift chair made into a swing provide private sitting spaces for the family and their guests. The wrap-around decks and outdoor kitchen are ideal for summer entertaining.
After years of toil, both generations of Stampers are settled in their dream home in the perfect location. "This home truly is a labor of love," Mark says. "We appreciate every detail of our home because so many helped us make our vision a reality."